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Mike Babcock

By Michael Landsberg

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

A couple summers ago people very close to Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach, Mike Babcock, lost their lives. This experience has motivated Mike to get involved to help end the stigma surrounding mental health. “As you suffer in silence, you suffer by yourself. The greatest thing about being on a team, is you have a ton of people around you to prop you up and make you better.” – Mike Babcock

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Mitch
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My name is Mitch and I suffer from mental illness.

I always thought of myself as being a mentally and physically strong person, being able to handle everything life could through at me. I was proud to be a model husband to my wife and great dad to my 12 year old son. I also excelled at my job, dedicating a lot of time to it, getting multiple promotion for it. I volunteered many hours as a hockey and lacrosse coach priding myself on giving back to my son and my community what I had gotten out of playing hockey as a kid in northern Ontario.

On January 13, 2018, at 1am in the morning, everything came to a dead stop. I woke up with thoughts going through my head like a tornado. Minutes later, I had multiple panic attacks that lasted up to one hour with very little time to recover between them. I remember rather being dead, seconds feeling like minutes. Finally at 6am, the panic attacks stopped but I found myself unable to function normally from then on. I had lost complete control of my mind and body. A few weeks later, I was diagnosed with mild social anxiety disorder and severe panic disorder. Little did I know, the life I knew and loved was gone, possibly forever.

Due to my busy life style and heavy stressful workload, the panic switch turned on that night and has stayed on since then. The next six months until May were extremely hard to function. I had to stop everything; work, household chores, and even the things I loved the most; coaching and playing hockey.

Today, things are better. Medication and therapy has helped me function normally to a certain limit. I’m back at work on modified tasks. Things at home have also gotten better. One of the silver linings is that I’m closer to my wife and son as they have been there for me, my rock and my pebble.

The one area of my life that I lost and having a hard time accepting is not being able to coach and play hockey. Not able to be on the ice during practices with the kids, especially my son, celebrating wins and learning’s during losses, very though. I also miss playing in the beer league with the boys and co-workers, the social aspect, the bragging rights and obviously, scoring goals.

The one thing that has inspired me is Mike being an advocate of mental health. I’m a long time dedicated Leaf fan and Mike has been unknowingly a mentor to me as a hockey coach. For me, hockey was a good place to be and now, it’s gone. Hopefully someday, I will be able to coach and play again.

Thanks to ambassadors like Mike, the stigma around mental health in hockey and in life will hopefully be eventually eliminated.

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